Not being ‘good enough’ is a freelancing myth.
Supply and demand is what drives freelance work.
If a freelancer has transferable skills that are in demand, then they will find clients who are prepared to pay them to supply their services.
The key to freelancing success is to identify a target market that requires those freelancing skills and for the freelancer to carefully time their transition into freelancing.
Some clients need highly skilled and experienced niche workers, whereas others might only require someone with fewer skills and less experience to cover an employee’s absence.
There is a role – and demand – for both.
The simple ways for a freelancer to determine whether they are ‘right’ for freelancing are to ask other freelancers and professional contacts, as well as looking at advertisements for freelancers to identify what skills are required.
Gauging supply and demand
Clients who are seeking freelancers with 20 years of experience or more might find their choice restricted, as there are likely to be fewer of this kind of freelancer.
As a result, the freelancer will most likely command a much higher rate when their skills are in demand.
Alternatively, a client may be seeking someone with only five years of experience and have a much greater choice of candidate.
The freelancing ‘lifers’ could be priced out of this market.
In a market where there are a lot of freelancers with 20 years of experience, but the demand is for those with that amount of skill is small, the 20-year veterans will still most likely take these smaller roles at a lower rate.
In this buyers’ market, it is a great opportunity for clients to obtain first rate skills at a lower rate, but it is not so great for freelancers.
Carefully time your move into freelancing
Timing is everything. During times when many IT skills were in short supply, someone with only two years of programming experience could be hired as a freelancer.
At that time, demand was huge but supply was small. But within ten years, rates had halved and only those developers with experience were winning the best clients.
When the financial crash happened many freelancers found themselves out of work, or forced onto the payroll by skills hoarding clients. But those with the niche and specialist skills still found work.
What type of freelancer are you?
Broadly speaking, freelancers can be segmented into four types.
This can be a useful exercise, as it will drive a freelancer’s marketing strategy and sales process.
- A high end freelancer stays at the bleeding edge of their profession, constantly learning the latest skills and techniques. These freelancers are highly attractive to clients that need the latest skills for new projects.
- Other freelancers will become a freelancing ‘category killer’. This means they focus on a very specific and niche skill that is in high demand but short supply. They benefit from this demand/supply imbalance.
- A standard freelancer is typically there to cover for a permanent employee, or to assist with capacity management. They essentially have the skills that the employee has and fill short-term roles when hiring a new employee cannot be justified or when an employee is away for a set period of time.
- Low end freelancers don’t maintain the latest skills and often find themselves doing the tasks that permanent employees don’t want to do. These freelancers can be at risk of being inside IR35 and taking any work that comes their way.
Moving into freelancing – the process
First time ‘newbie’ freelancers need to be available within a maximum of four weeks, so those with three months or longer notice periods need to plan their exit carefully.
Choosing when to make the leap is also crucial.
There are freelancing ‘seasons’ when projects typically start and clients are more readily available.
Equally, there are times when projects are less likely to start and clients are thin on the ground.
Good luck with your freelancing!